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Having finished my A levels I waited nervously to find out whether I had got into my chosen University. As I did so I noticed the incredible length of the English “summer” and watching the rain splatter against the window once more, I wondered what I could do to make each summer that bit more exciting. In November of 2011, once I had been settled into my new University digs, a friend of mine told me about the American summer camp program that he was applying for with BUNAC. Not knowing much about it I decided to see what would happen. How much I now owe that friend.
I was incredibly anxious on the drive down to Heathrow, as I had never done such a big trip alone before. However the moment I stepped into the airport I saw several people in bright BUNAC t-shirts and felt completely at ease. By the time I arrived at my new home for the summer I already had a handful of friends to spend it with. Camp was nothing like I expected. I had thought that American camp would be similar to my early days as a scout, pitching up tents with frozen fingers and singing Kum Ba Yah around the campfire with someone on guitar who thinks he’s the next John Mayer. The facilities were in fact beautiful and modern with sizeable bunk houses set to the backdrop of a glistening blue lake. As a tennis counselor, the twelve brand new tennis courts got me especially excited and it was there that most of my days were spent. It wasn’t easy all the time, as lovely as having the sunshine every day is, it could get painfully hot on court and I often envied those on life guarding duty by the cool lake.
When I try to reflect on the best moment of camp it is almost impossible for me to pick just one, there are so many happy memories from my spell in the forests of Pennsylvania. It was the people that made camp so special for me though, I loved the ‘can do’ attitude of the American psyche and the sense of excitement that buzzed around the camp every day.
While the kids were challenging at times, it was also infinitely rewarding watching them learn new skills and thrive in the camp environment. The satisfaction I got from seeing kids from my bunk learn something new from me and look up to me as a role model was impassable. I can get past the home-sick children, wet beds and often terrifying tantrums because of that single indescribable feeling I got when someone finally hit an incredible forehand after hundreds of attempts. It is the feeling that has inspired me to pursue a career in education after graduation. I would encourage anyone to go on a BUNAC adventure because being thrown in at the deep end, you never know who you will meet and help, the places you will visit and especially what you will learn about your own capabilities.
Want an experience like Jim's? Why not give our Summer Camp Exchange USA team a call on 0207 870 9570 or request a call back.